HomeWildlifeCuckoo spit/spittlebug foam on crops is innocent. Please depart it alone.

Cuckoo spit/spittlebug foam on crops is innocent. Please depart it alone.

I’m normally delighted to see Eire’s Wildlife featured within the media — however a current article revealed within the Gardening part of the RSVP Journal web site has me lower than thrilled.

Cuckoo Spit and Frog Hoppers - Spittle Bugs are not harmful
The nymph of the Frequent Frog Hopper creates Cuckoo Spit as a pure defence towards desiccation and predation

The article in query sensationalises the connection between frog-hoppers/spittle bugs (their American identify) and a bacterial plant illness known as Xylella fastidiosa. Sure, in areas the place Xylella happens, sap-sucking bugs like frog-hoppers typically turn out to be vectors by way of which the pathogen spreads to different close by crops, nonetheless, Xylella is NOT CAUSED by the insect, and the frothy spittle so widespread on crops all through the Irish countryside in early summer time IS NOT an indication of illness. The truth is, it’s a completely regular a part of a wholesome Irish ecosystem.

Cuckoo Spit / Spittle / Foam is not harmful and is a natural part of a functioning Irish Ecosystem
Cuckoo spit on a plant within the backyard right here at IWHQ on the date of publication

We’ve got by no means had a confirmed instances of Xyllela right here in Eire, and so they have recorded none so far within the UK both. For now a minimum of, it merely doesn’t happen right here.

The RSVP Journal article latches on to a legit name for info from scientist within the UK, and twists it into one thing altogether extra sinister. All of the scientists are asking for is for the general public to submit data of cuckoo spit and grownup frog-hoppers, serving to them to map their distribution. That knowledge will assist them make extra knowledgeable selections on how finest to reply IF Xylella ever does arrive.

Simply to be 100% clear right here: these scientists are not suggesting cuckoo spit is in any manner dangerous, they’re not calling for anybody to manage frog hoppers or eradicate cuckoo spit of their gardens or anyplace else. They’re simply amassing knowledge to higher perceive their distribution.

To summarise:

  • Xylella fastidiosa has by no means been recorded in Eire
  • Frog Hoppers / Spittle Bugs are widespread, widespread native Irish bugs
  • They DO NOT trigger illness in crops (though the place Xylella is current they will unfold it)
  • Cuckoo Spit is NOT A SIGN OF DISEASE: it’s a regular a part of a wholesome, functioning Irish ecosystem
  • There is no such thing as a viable cause to take away cuckoo spit from crops in your backyard

Discover out extra in regards to the fascinating Frequent Frog Hopper right here. For those who’re focused on discovering out extra in regards to the state of affairs surrounding Xylella, right here’s a complete overview of Xylella and frog-hoppers within the UK that’s nicely offered and fact-based.

The hazards of poor reporting in a Biodiversity Disaster

No one is denying that Xylella is a critical illness, and has brought about devastation in elements of mainland Europe (significantly to Italian olive groves). Measures to manage and limit the unfold of the micro organism that causes the illness are utterly warranted. What’s unwarranted is equivocal reporting that misrepresents the info, casting a innocent constituent of our native biodiversity because the villain in a contrived and appallingly inaccurate narrative.

Wildlife is not any stranger to being forged because the scapegoat for human-induced issues within the pure world, however amidst a biodiversity disaster, articles just like the RSVP one, that sensationalise danger, foster suspicion and demonise a local species, could be extremely damaging. We’ve been receiving emails and messages since this text went out from folks asking how they will eradicate cuckoo spit from their backyard crops.

The reply, in fact, is you don’t have to do something. Because the BBC Gardener’s World web site advises “It’s finest to depart the froghoppers to get on with being froghoppers.”

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